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Sled Driver: Flying the World's Fastest Jet

4.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  275 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
No aircraft ever captured the curiosity & fascination of the public like the SR-71 Blackbird. Nicknamed "The Sled" by those few who flew it, the aircraft was shrouded in secrecy from its inception. Entering the U.S. Air Force inventory in 1966, the SR-71 was the fastest, highest flying jet aircraft in the world. Now for the first time, a Blackbird pilot shares his uniq ...more
Hardcover, 151 pages
Published December 31st 1991 by Mach 1
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Nick Bennett
Sep 05, 2013 Nick Bennett rated it really liked it
Limited printing by the author so most books sell for upwards of $300. Found a .pdf copy online after some digging, and it was well worth my time.

Excellent "you are there" photography, with well-written supporting text. SR-71's (or "Sleds" as the author calls them) sound like a hell of a lot of fun to fly, and as privileged an experience as being an astronaut. Not far off, actually.

Aug 28, 2013 Kev rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kev by: Smithsonian Air & Space Mag Review
I met Brian at Edwards AFB Open House airshow in October, 1999. As we were chatting Chuck Yeager was cruising 30,000 ft. over our heads in an F4 Phantom doing a supersonic flyby.

How is cool is that?

Most of the photos are Brain's & they're beautiful. This is the definitive photo album of the SR71. Brian takes us through his career & his choice to step up to the challenge to become a member of a very select few whose intelligence, training & talent are brought to bear in piloting the f
Richard Mcdermott
Unbelievable read. Some of the photos taken by the author from a claustrophobically cramped cockpit - through 4 inches of armored glass, capable of withstanding the friction heat from travelling at faster than 2,000 mph at 80,000+ feet altitiude - are astounding. Only 32 of these engineering marvels were built and only 152 pilots ever drove the Sled. One of them, an SR71-B is housed in the air museum in Kalamazoo. You can walk up to it and touch it. I read the book once, then read it again the n ...more
Joseph Simmons
Mar 23, 2015 Joseph Simmons rated it it was amazing
The Blackbird is a beautifully moving piece of technology. I like to think of myself as a technology person, but really that just means computers. The SR-71 first flew in 1964, so it doesn't have much impressive in the way of computers.

But in 1976 it flew faster than anyone has before in a jet. And since 1976, no one has taken a jet faster than a Blackbird has. This machine, which was conceived in the 1950s, is still without a rival.

It flew fast & high because it was a spy evading its enemie
Apr 14, 2008 Christian rated it really liked it
Shelves: experiential
Sled driver is about flying the SR71 Blackbird. The world's fastest jet.

This is an amazingly compelling read. It is like waking up one morning and suddenly finding you can read a new language... you devour it, even if you don't necessarily have a frame of reference to put it in.

Miss a turn by a second or two, and you are in a completely different state.


Flying more than a thousand miles an hour.


The numbers they banter about in this book are simply incomprehensible, but the anecd
Jul 21, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing
Borrowed this through Inter Library Loan (known in my area as MOBIUS). This is not a book you're likely to find lying around, as it was printed/distributed in limited quantities.

If you have any interest in the SR-71 and what it's like to fly it, get your hands on this book. It's light reading. About half the pages are images of the plane and various scenery shot from the plane.

While the textual content was light, it wasn't fluff. Did you know that flying with a 25,000 foot-altitude-cabin can res
Feb 19, 2016 Remo rated it liked it
Shelves: biografia, militar, 2016
Breve relato plagado de fotos chulas sobre la experiencia de pilotar un Mirlo (Al SR-71 lo llamaban el Blackbird pero sobre todo lo llamaban The Lady in Black). Hay alguna anécdota muy interesante pero se nota que el piloto se ha dejado muchas cosas en el tintero. Rescato una anécdota del libro y otra que no es del libro pero que es del autor del libro:

Qué se siente al ser el avión más rápido del vecindario:
There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on
Kerry Kenney
Feb 12, 2014 Kerry Kenney marked it as to-read
Shelves: memoirs
after reading Skunkworks and Failure is Not an Option and this fabulous excerpt that circulated online (you can download the pdf for free here:

The excerpt I read is here:
Sep 28, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing
This book gets five stars just for the incredible discipline and skill necessary to fly this airplane. Out of print, so far as I know? Find a copy, if you have any interest in aviation. Major Shul, hats off and a sincere salute to you, from a far less talented, less accomplished airman.
Dec 15, 2015 Charles rated it liked it
This is an amazing book if you want to find out more about the SR-71 Blackbird and learn about one of the pilots that flew her. If you love airplanes as a general interest, this will be a fun and enjoyable read. Brian Shul knows how to explain events in a simple and straightforward manner. His writing never gets in the way of the unique aspects of flying an SR-71.

Did you know that each SR-71 had its own personality of a sort? There are many other fascinating bits of information that airplane afi
Wassim Maadadi
Nov 01, 2014 Wassim Maadadi rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing book, i never read a book before from start to finish, and i honestly thought i never will do due to my short attention span, but with this book..i just couldn't stop reading, it's extremely interesting, and i never got bored, reading page after page doing for the first time something i thought i would never do, enjoy a book

The stories are well written so everything is "connected" smoothly,you always wanna read the next part, the photos are breathtaking, the description of wha
Kamas Kirian
Mar 20, 2012 Kamas Kirian rated it it was amazing
The photography is wonderful. Seeing the plane in flight, and the views available to the pilot, is like nothing else. The story of what it's like to fly this magnificent jet is also compelling. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the SR-71.
Karla Goodhouse
This book gives an awesome description of what it is like to fly the world's fastest air-breathing jet - the SR-71 Blackbird. It is well written and the pictures are amazing.
Apr 14, 2008 Jay rated it it was amazing
Firsthand account of what it was like to pilot the world's most jaw-dropping astonishing ahead of its time aircraft. My copy is autographed, so it's a veritable treasure.
Jan 12, 2011 Kristian rated it it was amazing
My favourite book of all time
Oct 08, 2013 Jack rated it really liked it
If you're looking at this book, the first thing you will notice is that it trades for hundreds of dollars on and is out of print. It is difficult to find a copy "just to read".

I managed to do so, and my first comment is that it is not worth $400.

That's not to say it isn't good. Look up there, I rated it four stars. I obviously liked it. Since I liked it so much, I'll start with what is wrong with it and why it didn't get five stars.

The biggest problem is that Brian Shul is not a wr
Primož Resman
Nov 01, 2015 Primož Resman rated it it was amazing
Compared to Viper Pilot, this is an easy read, the author doesn't think he has God's testicles in his hands. Couple that to the fact it's a story about flying the fastest jet in the world and you have a very good read.

The famous speed check story is much shorter in this book than what can be found on the internet, so is suspect the book could easily be much longer. Which I wouldn't mind at all.
Apr 30, 2015 Nick rated it it was ok
Brian Shul points out multiple times in this short book that those who never flew the Blackbird will never know what it was like. After reading his book, I'm inclined to agree with him. I wish he had done a bit more to relate the experience to those of us who aren't one of the 152 people who ever flew the plane, but unfortunately it never did it for me.
Feb 25, 2012 Donovan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Have you ever wondered what it was like to be in control of one of the world's most recognised and enigmatic aircraft - The SR-71 Blackbird???

Being of the Star Wars generation, this aircraft captivated my imagination from the moment I saw photographs of it, to seeing it in real life at the Reno Air Races with my father at 16, then as an aircraft engineer the technology (ancient by today's standards) captivated me.
But, other than Flight Simulator software I had no idea what it was like to fly one
Oct 28, 2014 KennyO rated it it was amazing
My favorite of all airplane books! If you want detailed technical info go elsewhere but if you want the pilot's perspective this is the go-to volume. Shul's writing and photography are exceptional. Sled Driver Has a permanent home on my shelf.
Jamie Flournoy
Apr 09, 2016 Jamie Flournoy rated it it was amazing
Beautiful photographs, exciting and entertaining stories of camaraderie and adventure, and it's all true. If you like planes, I highly recommend this book.
May 10, 2015 Joe rated it liked it
good but short, I liked Skunk Works much better. It got into the technical issues that came up while engineering and building the SR71 and its predecessors
Feb 25, 2015 Ren rated it really liked it
Great read and great photography. Considered by some to be the best book on what it was like flying the SR-71 Blackbird. If you are a pilot, aviator or love airplanes this is a great book; not at all melodramatic nor dry and technical.
Jun 29, 2008 Dale rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in aviation or "speed"
Recommended to Dale by: Internet search
This was an amazing account of all aspects of flying the SR-71, the fastest jet aircraft, written by one of it's pilots. Brian Shul takes you from his many hours in the simulator to his first flight, to refueling in the air and taking on 11,000 gallons of JP7 (70,000 lbs) and on to flying 80,000 feet at 2000 MPH. The SR-71 was retired in 1990 but still holds many speed and altitude records. I thought it was interesting that one of the SR-71s set 4 new continental speed records on its way to reti ...more
Prayush Khadka
Jan 20, 2015 Prayush Khadka rated it really liked it
finished this book in about 4 hours. it was great read and very informative too for those who are interested in aviation.
John Bignell
Sep 01, 2014 John Bignell rated it it was amazing
Lots of great images and interesting stories from a pilot's career. Couldn't put this book down and finished it in an evening.
Mark Veira
Sep 21, 2014 Mark Veira rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book, that flowed as quickly and as smoothly as the SR-71 must have done itself.

Jan 04, 2015 Leigh rated it it was amazing
Provided very interesting insight into the details of and day-to-day activities surrounding piloting the plane. Very cool.
Christopher Brennan
Nov 13, 2014 Christopher Brennan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Fun book by one of the 154 pilots to fly the SR-71 during its lifetime.
Ray Duran
Jul 01, 2014 Ray Duran rated it it was amazing
I thought I loved this plane before. Now I'm at a loss for words. So cool.
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